A Letter to BrewDog: You Win.

Dear Martin and James,

I give up.

I’ve railed against your over-the-top concoctions for the past couple of years.  For some reason I ALWAYS feel compelled to post about your silly “stunt beers,” getting myself into a froth about how you are exploiting the pure nature of craft beer to make a name for yourselves. I’ve said you put style before substance, focusing on high ABVs and taxidermal shock value instead of flavor in your litany of extreme beers.

While I’ve been negative, I’ve also been playing right into your hands.  You create these beers for attention and I can’t seem to stop giving you just what you want.  Even now.

I’ve just read about Ghost Deer, the 28% ABV blonde ale dispensed from the severed head of an actual deer.  You claim it’s the highest ABV fermented beer ever brewed and I’ll take your word for it.

Normally I’d climb up on my soapbox now and proclaim that you’re trading quality for buzz, craftsmanship for marketing, but not this time.

For some reason using a deer’s head as a kegerator goes beyond my ability to manufacture outrage.  It doesn’t shock me or repulse me.  Actually, I think it’s kind of funny.  Hilarious even.

Why this change of heart?  I think you’ve worn me down.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin struck me wrong (especially after tasting it), Sink the Bismark only made me more angry, and End of History almost gave me a stroke.  I think Ghost Deer has now pushed me past the breaking point, blowing the fuse in the part of my brain that gives a damn about matters such as these.  My filter is fractured, the scales have fallen from my eyes.

I thought you might like to know that I “get it” now.

You win.



P.S.  Anything short of a live elephant that dispenses ale from its trunk and stout from the other end will be a let down from here on out.  That, or something with a flaming marsupial.  Surprise me.

UPDATE: An interesting response from a guy over at Reddit.com giving the U.K. perspective on BrewDog’s stunts.




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Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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28 Comments on “A Letter to BrewDog: You Win.”

  1. September 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    (pulls out the email those guys keep sending me looking for “Punk Investors” and deletes it)

    • September 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      Yes, not sure I’d invest in their madness, but I can at least now appreciate it.

  2. johnking82
    September 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Yet another reason why I don’t drink their beer. Thanks for reminding me Jim.

    • Don
      September 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      I wish I could get their beer, well Tokio Stout anyway. They can’t sell it here in Idaho, because the ABV is too high, they have a defacto limit of 16%. See anything over that has to be sold in the liquor store, and the liquor stores have said they will not sell beer as to not compete with other package stores. So that means no Tokio Stout for me! But I will tell you it is amazing!

      • September 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

        Maybe I’ll crack open the one that’s been hanging around my garage for a few months.

        Those things grow on trees here in NJ! 🙂

        • Don
          September 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm #


    • September 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      Your welcome, but I’d be interested if you could resist a sour poured from a grizzly cub’s mouth.

  3. BeerBanker
    September 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    While I agree most of these are stunt beers, their “normal” Hardcore double IPA is quite tasty. Worth ignoring the stunts…

    • September 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      I’m waiting for these guys to steal that wooly mammoth that was just uncovered and wrap it around a fruit beer. they could call it the Lambic Before Time.

  4. September 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    I think this is hilarious. I’d be miffed if all they made were stunt beers, but at least they back it up with some excellent product. You do realize, of course, that most of these “stunts” aren’t really directed at American craft beer geeks, but at CAMRA and the UK light lager crowd, right?

    • September 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      Well they seem to hit us pretty hard for not being aimed in our direction, but I imagine they are even more impactful to the stuffy beer types in dear Old Bloody.

  5. September 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Creativity…. you gotta at least give them that…

    • September 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      And taxidermy. Don’t forget that one!

  6. September 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    My take? I wouldn’t like it so I won’t buy it. Let the market deal with them.

    • September 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      You can’t get it anyway – none of us can. I think there’s only one dispenser.

  7. September 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    “While I’ve been negative, I’ve also been playing right into your hands. You create these beers for attention and I can’t seem to stop giving you just what you want. Even now.” Does this mean you’ll pen a make-up post which focuses on a 4.2% beer from a brewery none of us have heard of? 🙂

    • September 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

      I wouldn’t hold your breath…. 🙂

  8. September 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Jim, you’re too hung up on their extreme/stunt beers. I think BrewDog has really improved their lineup. I had a bunch of their beers in Europe this summer and they were all great. (Well, the all-Citra IPA was more interesting than great, to be honest.) Seriously, crack open that Tokyo and shut-up.

    • September 7, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

      But as I said, I get it now. I don’t care about their antics.

  9. September 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I guess that’s the danger of being so gimmicky – no one notices your “normal” beer lineup. I really enjoy Tokyo, Hardcore, and any of their collaborations with Mikkeller (Devine Rebel is amazing, I Hardcore you is pretty damn good too, I’m sure there are others.) And they’ve got other stuff I want to try. I didn’t even think those huge gimmicky beers were available much (i.e. I’m pretty sure they only make them in very small quantities).

  10. September 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    When I found out about the Rogue Doughnut Bacon Maple thing from G-Lo’s website earlier today, I assumed that it was the weirdest beer product I’d hear about today. In fact, I would have bet a million dollars on it if I was fiscally capable of making such stupid ventures.

    I’m glad I don’t have a million dollars to bet on things like that.

  11. September 7, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    What I can never understand is why anybody would hold any creative industry, be it beer, wine, spirits, or puppeteering, to be sacrosanct.

    “exploiting the pure nature of craft beer”

    What in the actual fu*k is that supposed to mean? These guys are creative, love what they do, and make people happy doing it. They are not screwing with your brewery, they are not “changing the perception of craft beer” (any “perception” of craft beer is held only by people who are informed enough to not be swayed by the actions of any one company anyway), they’re just some dudes making some weird-ass beer and dressing it up in dead animals.

    How could you *not* find that amusing in the first place? People need to lighten up.

    • September 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

      I’m with you Steve. Really. I used to get all uptight about Brew Dogs’ stunts, but now I’m kind of on board. This one is so over the top it’s hard not to laugh about.

      Thanks for the comment – it’s good to see new folks in these parts.

      • September 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

        Found you guys through the /r/beer reddit. As someone who works with beverages, loves beer, and adores whisky, I’m glad I found you!

        • September 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

          We occasionally wind up on r/beer and have a few folks who have stuck around after following a link. Hope you do as well.

  12. September 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    I think Damien Hirst is about to get a phone call.


    • September 8, 2011 at 6:48 am #

      That would hold a ton of beer!!!

  13. September 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    This, and the others, are clearly publicity stunts, disguised as beers, disguised as animals, but who cares, really? I’d like to try them, if only for curiosity’s sake, though something tells me that they probably wouldn’t be particularly enjoyable, given the extreme ABV, and I am certainly unwilling to pay the exorbitant prices. But these are just some deliciously peculiar young men, doing what it is they wish to do, and I applaud them for that much, if nothing else. And at the end of the day, the bottom line for me is that the BrewDog offerings I have had have been absolutely wonderful.

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